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We Need to Talk About Kevin

A 2011 film directed by Lynne Ramsay

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  • Dec 31, 2011


Written by Lynne Ramsay and Rory Kinnear

Directed by Lynne Ramsay

Starring Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilley and Ezra Miller


Dr. Foulkes: He’s a floppy little boy, isn’t he? But there’s nothing wrong with him.


I know we’re supposed to talk about him but I have a very hard time talking about WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN. (I meant to write this review three weeks ago and just couldn’t do it until now.) From the moment it opens, with a jubilant Tilda Swinton, dousing herself, the people around her and the entire screen in deep red tomatoes and their juice at the Tomatina festival, in Bunol, Spain, I was consumed by the film. The imagery and the intention were so vibrant and alive, it was almost intoxicating. And then it gets drab and ugly and we are thrown into a world where every trace of Swinton’s former life is absent. All that remains is a run down shack on what is clearly the wrong side of town. The red is still there but now its the painted curse words on the front of her home. How did her life go from one extreme to the other? She had Kevin.


Swinton is mind blowing in Lynne Ramsay’s brilliant adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s popular novel. She plays Eva Katchadourian. Once upon a time she was a successful travel agent who would travel to the most exotic of locations with her happy husband, Franklin (John C. Reilley). Like most people, her life changed when she had a baby. Before long, she and her family were leaving New York City for a quiet place in the suburbs, as they do. Eva struggled though to find happiness in her new life. She never seemed to connect with her son, Kevin (played primarily as an adult on screen by the disturbingly lanky, Ezra Miller), and began to fear there was something wrong with him. It doesn’t take too long though before she starts to suspect that Kevin is just being spiteful and directing some fairly disturbing anger solely at her. It gets so callous she can hardly seem to get the words out at some point. She loves him but she also hates him simultaneously. It’s as if she knows she is obligated to love him but cannot for the life of her figure out how to accomplish this. And for as much direct suggestion the title provides, no one ever seems to talk too much about Kevin, when clearly they should.


Ramsay slowly reveals to us in flashback how Eva fell from grace and WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN becomes a modern telling of a familiar horror story. Personally, I find it quite refreshing to see a film about an evil child that isn’t possessed by some spirit or satanic force. Kevin has done something truly horrible but we don’t know what that is, just what it did to Eva’s life and that she never abandoned him despite any of it. The back and forth in time and space, which I loved being lost in, makes it near impossible to situate yourself directly in the narrative for too long at any one time, likely very similar to the blur of Eva’s fractured mind. To piece the puzzle together means having to ask whether or not Kevin’s troubles came from his mother or perhaps whether Kevin is just plain evil. It’s nature vs. nurture but it forces us to acknowledge that if we side with nature, we must not only admit that some apples really are just bad but also remember the trees they fell not too far from.


PS. If you or anyone you know is thinking about having children, you might seriously consider seeing this first (or not).

Thanks for reading.
LUNCH rating is out of 10.

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February 09, 2012
Hi...this seems to be a positive review, but at the bottom there is a note saying that the rating here on Lunch is out of are you saying 4 out of 10, meaning you really disliked it? I'm confused.
February 09, 2012
As in 9 out of 10.
January 03, 2012
This one is on my must see list. I was angry that it was playing in a part of town that I wasn't fond of, and it only lasted a week or so. I guess I have to wait for it on dvd. Happy New year, Joseph!
March 03, 2012
Have you had the good fortune to see this one yet?
November 30, 2012
yes! awesome film!
More 'We Need To Talk About Kevin' reviews
review by . June 03, 2013
A Mediocre Film
So this is another book to film adaptation. Considering I haven't read the book I cannot compare them (although I do plan on reading it eventually). The film was alright. I think Ezra Miller and Tilda Swinton were phenomenal in their roles but I think it seemed typical to cast Tilda as the role, it just seemed 'her' to me. It dragged on far too much, not really going anywhere. Being a teenage girl I definitely cried at the end, which I think was the best part.    All in …
review by . July 19, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
**** out of ****    The first shot in Lynne Ramsay's "We Need to Talk About Kevin" is of an open window. What lies beyond that window shocked me more than anything I have seen so far this year and last in the movies. It isn't something that I find offensive; but something cold, inhuman, and indecent. That's not going to sit well with a lot of people, and without spoiling what "it" is, I will say that Ramsay is a brave and talented director for not only showing what she had to …
review by . September 21, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
A stunning film
Eva (Tilda Swinton) is a wife and mother who has just experienced the last in a series of shattering incidents. In flashbacks, we see her happy life change forever with the birth of her unusual son. From that first day, she never feels any bond with him while he seems equally detached from and even hateful toward her.      This is an incredibly intense and heartbreaking film, dealing with the problem of alienation, the nature of familial love, and unspeakable violence. All of …
review by . December 14, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         Are monsters born, or are they made? It’s obvious that Eva (Tilda Swinton) was ambivalent about her pregnancy, and by the time her son Kevin was born, she realized that having a child was never something she wanted. Throughout all stages of Kevin’s life, we see just how aware he is of his mother’s indifference, and how he uses it against her. As a baby, he cries incessantly. As a toddler, he develops slowly, not learning how to …
review by . January 20, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
'We Need To Talk About Kevin' 'Two Jews On Film' Agree & Disagree About This Powerful Drama (Video)
            By Joan Alperin Schwartz      What would you do if you suspected that your six year old son was an evil sociopath?  (Are there any other kind?) I know what I would do...Lock him away and throw away the key.       Unfortunately, this is not what Eva Khatchadourian (Tilda Swinton) in 'We Need To Talk About Kevin' does.  In fact,  Eva does absolutely nothing …
Quick Tip by . June 22, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Adapted from the novel by Lionel Shriver, “We Need to Talk about Kevin” is a horrifying look at a mother’s heartbreaking experience as her son goes on to commit a massacre at his school.      Are parents somewhat responsible when they see the warning signs of the makings of a homicidal behavior and yet fail to address such things? Are monsters born or are they made? This film engages the viewer into the depths of a mother’s guilt as well as her own descent …
About the reviewer
Joseph Belanger ()
Ranked #8
Hello Lunchers. I am a thirty-something guy making his way in Toronto. I am a banker by day and a film critic the rest of the time. Sensitive, sharp and sarcastic are just a few words that start with … more
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Drama, Two Jews On Film, John C Reilly, Tilda Swinton, Ezra Miller, Mother And Son, Bad Seed, Lynne Ramsey, High School Masacure, We Need To Talk About Kevin Movie Review


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